The explosion of the practice of video games is a social fact whose importance is now evidenced by their omnipresence in exchanges between children and adolescents, as well as by the sales figures of consoles and game software, which represent thousands of published game titles, and hundreds of millions of consoles, cassettes and CD-ROMs sold worldwide for an annual turnover of around 25 billion euros (Idate, 2000).
However, the phenomenon is still the subject of few comprehensive studies in social sciences, even though it takes a new dimension today, on the one hand, because it extends to categories of players more older than teens, and on the other hand, because it now offers the community of players the opportunity to meet in the gaming space, as most versions have a networked gaming option, and a possibility Internet connection that allows you to play with other participants from around the world, via gaming platforms hosted on remote servers. To the fascination with the imagery, the animations and the scenario proposed by the game, adds interactivity with other players within the many communities that form on the Network. Video games are one of the most popular domains for Internet users. The Microsoft’s gaming zone in 1999 was home to more than eight million users a week, and the Havas Interactive sites ( battle.net , won.net and Battle Central ) nearly ten million (Idate, id.).
A phenomenon whose scale worries
The attraction of young people for video games worries parents and educators on at least two levels. Some of the questions they ask concern the risks of isolation and desocialization linked to an excessive practice of games in general. The other side of their concerns is the impact of some games in particular, because of their themes and their explicitly violent scenarios.
1 Isolation of the player
Does video games, and especially video games on the Internet, increase the isolation between human beings, allowing interlocutors, without having to meet physically, to preferentially communicate in artificial worlds, populated by unreal beings and subject to rules that have only a distant relationship with everyday life? Now a figure popularized by the media, the video game fan, more and more often Internet surfer, spends hours in front of his screen, never leaves his house to meet his parents, his neighbors and his friends. Does the scarcity of encounters with loved ones encourage a form of abstraction, derealization of the other? To be captured only as one of the interchangeable characters of an online video game,
The virtualization of the interlocutor, with whom it becomes possible to communicate anonymously and who, himself, offers no certainty about his real identity, presents himself as the accomplished figure of a society in which we can do without the others, to have to take them into account in everyday life, to pay attention to the consequences of what they are told, what is done to them or what is done with them (Schmoll , 2001a). In a universe where the other can be quickly replaced by millions of others (others, just in the sense that there are others of him), even by bots (characters animated by algorithms of artificial intelligence), no need to say “please” or “thank you”.
2 The violence of certain games
This concern is redoubled in the case of violent video games. No doubt the practice of games on the Internet expresses a general desire to meet with others in a search for pleasure to many. But the aggression is there, via games such asQuake , Duke Nukem , Hexen , or Counter-Strike , the form of confrontation to the other most frequently staged, with a wealth of infographic details, which in the cutting the bodies with a laser or a medieval ax, or the mortar blast of the opponents whose guts are going to tap to the surrounding walls, reduce it most of the time to an object of satisfaction of the less elaborate impulses.
In most of these games, the subjective vision precipitates identification with the aggressor: the player sees what is happening through the eyes of the character he animates (his “avatar”), causing the illusion of immersion in the 3D environment in which it evolves. The realism of infographic animation and immersion thus weakens the boundary between the game situation and reality. This boundary is in principle clear, defined materially by precise limits: the environment in which the player is, the time of the game and the virtual space in which one plays. But this objective definition does not answer the question of the risks of gambling overflows in real life, at the psychological and behavioral levels: would there be a risk of confusion, a non-differentiation, in the mind of the player, who can take the real world for a playground – and possibly behave as a predator? Would the practice of these games transform young people into a horde of new barbarians who will make the world of tomorrow dangerous to live?
Rather reassuring scientific studies
The nature and content of the scenarios proposed by games in which the main part of the action is often, repeatedly, killing everything that moves, have led to studies to better understand the phenomenon and its potential dangers for the evolution of player behavior in real life. The fundamental question is therefore whether the excessive practice of video games, and especially games with violent content, may exacerbate youth violence and contaminate their real social behavior.
To date, little work has been done because this field of research is very recent. A French study, conducted in 1994 on the classes of twenty-six schools of Savoie representing more than a thousand interviews, concludes that students with an “excellent” level are actually more likely to play video games (all styles) than those having poor academic results, but playing less time than they do (Longuet, 1996). This study shows that one third of the big players are excellent students and that this does not disturb their results at school. Of all the games cited in the interviews, only 15% are violent games. Another aspect pointed out by this study shows that video games are a factor of social integration and exchange becausewe play only if we can talk with friends and / or play with parents , and that at the age of 8 years. Another study, dating from 1994 and conducted by Joel Saxe at the University of Massachusetts, concludes that although the game Mortal Kombatshows an extreme violence, the behavior of the young players between them is cooperative, even pleasant (Saxe, 1994). From a functional perspective, the role of the violent video game is seen as positive, because it generates pleasure and helps to combat frustration, to get rid of feelings of anxiety and stress through identification with the fantastic powers offered to the player in the game. Saxe speaks of “inversion of reality”, this inversion allowing the players to manage their moods: thus, following a missed day, a good part of the fight from which one comes out restores the tone, Boosts morale and restores self-confidence. Violent video games appear to teenagers as a way of channeling violent impulses and letting them express themselves, resulting in a better balance and lowering of internal tensions. This release can also combat feelings of doubt, questioning important identities at this pivotal age, and allow better management of conflicts larvae or expressed in the face of authority. The pleasure of the game should not be considered subversive or perverse as it helps to fight anxiety, anger and frustration. Play can also be the place of expression of emotions that are repressed in the social context. This study also reveals demonstrations of solidarity and mutual aid between experienced and novice players: the latter are often treated in a friendly and non-violent way by “veterans”. This release can also combat feelings of doubt, questioning important identities at this pivotal age, and allow better management of conflicts larvae or expressed in the face of authority. The pleasure of the game should not be considered subversive or perverse as it helps to fight anxiety, anger and frustration. Play can also be the place of expression of emotions that are repressed in the social context. This study also reveals demonstrations of solidarity and mutual aid between experienced and novice players: the latter are often treated in a friendly and non-violent way by “veterans”. This release can also combat feelings of doubt, questioning important identities at this pivotal age, and allow better management of conflicts larvae or expressed in the face of authority. The pleasure of the game should not be considered subversive or perverse as it helps to fight anxiety, anger and frustration. Play can also be the place of expression of emotions that are repressed in the social context. This study also reveals demonstrations of solidarity and mutual aid between experienced and novice players: the latter are often treated in a friendly and non-violent way by “veterans”. The pleasure of the game should not be considered subversive or perverse as it helps to fight anxiety, anger and frustration. Play can also be the place of expression of emotions that are repressed in the social context. This study also reveals demonstrations of solidarity and mutual aid between experienced and novice players: the latter are often treated in a friendly and non-violent way by “veterans”. The pleasure of the game should not be considered subversive or perverse as it helps to fight anxiety, anger and frustration. Play can also be the place of expression of emotions that are repressed in the social context. This study also reveals demonstrations of solidarity and mutual aid between experienced and novice players: the latter are often treated in a friendly and non-violent way by “veterans”.
Similar findings are presented in an Australian study involving a sample of 1310 people, including 415 youth aged 12-17 (Durkin & Aisbett, 1999), which also shows that there is no significant effect of negative influence. violent video games about the behavior in the life of the players studied. Players take pleasure in playing and many of them claim to have felt a very motivating feeling of competition during the game. There are a lot of laughs and discussions around the games, and few open aggression, verbal or physical, between players: when they occur, they are accompanied by laughter, which changes its meaning. Most players experience positive feelings during games, few say they feel anger or aggressive impulses.
The only study that differs from the previous ones in its conclusions is a double study by The American Psychological Association’s(APA), the first component of which consists of a questionnaire administered to 227 people, including 149 women, and the second to an experiment conducted on 210 people, including 104 women, all psychology students (Anderson & Dill, 2000). The questionnaire highlights that 73% of the games cited as the most played by students are non-violent. Laboratory experimentation involves placing the selected sample in a situation in two video games, one non-violent and the other violent. The study concludes that violent games intensify thoughts with aggressive content and violent behavior, they are more dangerous than television and cinema and have the distinction of leading the player to identify with the aggressor. Furthermore, the survey correlates the number of hours played with school failure. The study concludes that the practice of violent video games is an aggravating factor of behavior and personality disorders in long-time gamers, that it potentiates the “patterns” of aggression and inclines to the passage into action in the real life. The amplification of violent behavior, generated by repeated exposure to active violence in games, is thought to be due to the reinforcing and over-learning factors of aggressive mental structures. In addition, the study suggests that young players are looking to play more and more violent games. Females have higher levels of hostility and aggression than men. The danger of these games is relayed by the ideas conveyed and not by the emotion experienced during the games. The more realistic the violence, the more the player identifies with the aggressor and the greater the tendency to internalize aggressive solutions in solution to conflict situations in the real world, instead of choosing consensual paths. On the other hand, in the game, aggression is sought and executed: it is not received passively as in the vision of a television program. Finally, games have an addictive component play https://addictinggamesz.com/, which risks further potentiating the learning of violent behavior. the more the player identifies with the aggressor, the greater the tendency to internalize aggressive solutions in solution to conflictual situations in the real world, instead of choosing consensual paths. On the other hand, in the game, aggression is sought and executed: it is not received passively as in the vision of a television program. Finally, games have an addictive component, which risks further potentiating the learning of violent behavior. the more the player identifies with the aggressor, the greater the tendency to internalize aggressive solutions in solution to conflictual situations in the real world, instead of choosing consensual paths. On the other hand, in the game, aggression is sought and executed: it is not received passively as in the vision of a television program. Finally, games have an addictive component, which risks further potentiating the learning of violent behavior.
In contrast to the previous study, a synthesis of all published research commissioned in 1999 by the Clinton Administration and presented by the Public Health Service resulted in a report (Satcher, 2001). This review of the work concludes that video games about behavior are safe, except for subjects with pre-existing aggressive social and psychological behaviors that are then amplified by addiction to violent video games.
In general, therefore, the research carried out does not establish that video games, even violent, have a negative influence on the behavior of players in real life. The same is true of e-dependence, which is effective, but of which there is no reason to say that it is, like addiction, a “heavy” dependence: no case of violence against oneself or against another one seems to date to have been signaled for cause of “lack”. On the contrary, video games arouse original forms of sociability in the margins of the game.
Sociability from the game: tournaments and clans
Since the development of network and on-line games , communities are created and sometimes meet ” irl ” ( in real life ) on the occasion of week-ends entirely devoted to a tournament in local network: groups of ten to twenty young people gather in a room, each bringing his own computer, sleeping bag and provisions. After an hour or two spent mounting their networked machines, they then play continuously, the participants taking turns to take a break.
There are other types of games related to gambling: national and international events are regularly organized, bringing together hundreds of players on the same site. From 25 to 27 May 2001, for example, a tournament, the Lan Arena 6 , hosted in Paris, under the Ark de la Defense, 1200 players and their computers connected in a huge local network. Four giant screens and ten plasma screens made it possible to follow live games in which French and German clans competed in Quake III , Tournament , Broodwar and Counter-Strike tournaments , all massacre games .The results, published on a site ( www.lang-arena.com ), make it possible to follow the qualifications of the clans with rankings similar to those of the sports field. The comparison does not stop there, since articles appearing in specialized magazines ( Online Gamer, for example) use a narrative style close to that of sports journalism. Sponsors are already present in these tournaments, lending equipment, providing network infrastructure, presenting their stalls and providing prize prizes for the winners. From then on, the ideals of competitive sport (and probably also the risks of drifting) are transposed in these tournaments: the will to win, the cult of the winner, but also the team spirit and the notion of fair play .
In the margins of these encounters and the space of confrontation itself, forms of sociability are developing online and irlrelated games. The players regroup in permanent teams, taking again the theme, the vocabulary and the imagery of the game. They join together within “tribes warriors”, bound by the common will to reach the goal and by the displayed conviction of to be the strongest, the bravest, the best. These “clans” and “guilds” have their own sites, where members and visitors find themselves outside the strict space of games, in a dark or bloody decorum, studded with traditional “Gothic” objects (skulls, bones, swords, axes …) but displaying a community sociality: one for all in the group, all against others outside.
The spirit of the game can not be trapped by the implicit values of the scenarios proposed by the designers. The games of massacre value in first approach the individual alone against all, the “everything is allowed” and the displayed refusal of the order, but the discourse and the practices of the players orient themselves towards the affirmation of the belonging to the a group, the pre-eminence of rules, norms, values inspired by warlike cultures, such as honor, courage, strength, freedom, justice, cooperation … Games whose central theme is the destruction on the other hand, where it can nevertheless be considered honorable to have been “broken apart” by a valuable adversary, thus give rise to sociality in more or less stable groups and in gaming communities where adversaries meet, sympathize, establish relationships of mutual respect. In these cases, the game causes the encounter with the other and this meeting, in return, guarantees the gap between fiction and reality: we kill each other virtually, but it is simply impossible that it is anything other than a game.
While extreme violence is the driving force of the game, the destruction many times of his avatar, normal and inevitable, does not cause bitterness of the player vis-à-vis the opponent. In real life , the atmosphere in the playroom is generally good and laughter is common (“You have got me, you bastard!”). The space of the game, circumscribed by the screen, does not prevent a good-natured sociality outside the game. We regularly observe outside the game a mutual help between players, yet fierce enemies in the arena. Online, many sites welcome novices and provide advice and start-up help. In the world of Quake, a support of “new” network, locally or on the Internet, is also commonplace.
In this context of a sociality that produces its own values, certain behaviors are presented as transgressions, not to the rules of the game itself, but to the codes of “good behavior” of the membership clan or the community of players in general. Swearing, for example, is not uncommon in the heat of the moment; however, xenophobic or sexist insults are a badly accepted aggression not only by those to whom they are addressed but also by the other players present. Cheaters handling the programming code of the game to build their character or falsify scores for their benefit, or worse, that penetrate through hacking techniques, hackingin the computer of another player to change the characteristics of his character, are fingered on the forums and, when they are identified, are excluded both competitions and clans they are part.
In a very general way, the players of massacre games refuse to this kind of abuses and one finds that all is not allowed in these violent virtual universes. The player expects others to respect him as a player, and in fact as a human being, and he usually behaves towards opponents with the same respect that he expects to be expected by them of His part. For the value of the winner to be measured at an undisputed yardstick, fair play , honesty is essential in a game where the odds must be equal for all and where the difference must take place, not by means adulterated, but by comparing individual abilities: speed of reaction, concentration, efficiency and self-control.
Thus, even if he wins in the game, the cheater is in reality a loser: he is ostracized by the community of players because he has excluded himself from the spirit of the game and values shared by all. . Conversely the honest player, even the loser, can cling to a positive image of himself: in his reference system, he recognizes his opponents, not only as enemies, but also as partners sharing the same values, and considers that he is recognized by them in this same place, because he has lost “honorably”. Exchanges on forums that follow competitions confirm this spirit: the winners congratulate the losers for defending themselves valiantly, the losers are proud to have been defeated by valuable opponents. Cheats and bad players are ostracized by the community.
In summary, most players, even protected by their anonymity, are committed to respect the rules imposed by a minimal civility: “serious” insults and cheating are too violent, the crossing of this limit threatens the game itself , which may cease to be a game. The extreme violence staged must remain confined in the fictional space: the majority of the players are clearly aware of it, and the borderline is clear between the battle arena and what happens outside the game, between violent fiction in its forms, inside the game, and a reality-friendly reality, on the sidelines of the game.
These rules of life between players and the exclusion of disrupters thus inscribe an order into these virtual universes which seem initially destined to the expression of the violent and destructive instincts, and thus doomed to chaos. This order is a lived metaphor of what is happening in the real world: just as in reality, surviving and winning in these virtual worlds require effort, work, learning, and very often cooperation to arrive at the result. , to success. The transgressions are punished as in the real world (by disapproval at least and, when possible, by criminalization of the culprit). Violent game players put their behaviors in a frame marked by values that are actually those of the real world.
A new generation of games: the “persistent worlds”
The scientific studies cited above do not take into account a more recent form of these online video games, which have since become increasingly popular and in which the line between fiction and reality is not so clear. It is therefore appropriate to say a few words here, to be complete on the subject.
With the “persistent worlds”, realism and interactivity take on a new dimension. In these games, the game in which the player moves is perpetual. It does not disappear when it disconnects from the Network. And when he reconnects, he finds the character as he left it. The “persistent worlds” are therefore played only online, bringing together tens of thousands of players from around the world in one part: their massively multiplayer mode represents between 100 and 300,000 subscriber accounts depending on the game.
The player embodies a character with special characteristics and skills. He sets out to discover a fantastic medieval world populated by dangerous creatures with evil powers ( Ultima , Everquest , Asheron’s Call , The Fourth Prophecy ). Or it embarks on a space ship to conquer the galaxy and develops its installations on planets, participates in the formation of stellar empires ( Mankind , Starpeace). The violent confrontation is also staged, but with a lesser luxury of bloody details than in the games of massacre: it is more of role-playing games or strategy games, computer successors of table games like Dungeons and Dragons.
Unlike video games whose space is limited to the equivalent of a combat arena in a given time, persistent worlds do not stop: players therefore live permanently with each other in the game , and, in a way, even when they are disconnected, since their characters and installations continue to produce and may be attacked while they are not there. The boundary between play and reality becomes blurred, porous, and the complexity of interactions allows for the emergence of spontaneous forms of sociality that have a ubiquitous existence: just as the clans of massacre video games, the guilds and empires of these “Persistent worlds” have their own websites on other Internet servers, their own forums and occasionally hold meetings in physical locations, a café or the home of one of the members; however, these groups and communities also elect inside the game, where they occupy territories, build institutions and kingdoms, engage in a complex game of struggles and alliances with other communities.
Here, the porosity of the boundary between game space and everyday reality is increased by the time spent developing and communicating with other players. Participants in persistent worlds spend an average of more than 20 hours a week playing in the same game (Nguyen, 2001), which is most of their free time. They call or “email” outside the game. When they are disconnected, they have the opportunity to be notified by the server, on their mobile phone, of an attack on their facilities. Players do not just play in a given time and space: they think about the game, talk about the game, every day in their daily lives.
To these original forms of sociality are attached specific manifestations of violence. This is no longer just an animation show, it is lived, actually inflicted or suffered. It is not physical, of course, in a virtual world, but being robbed or destroying artifacts or installations, even virtual, that took weeks or months to build causes emotions that are real. Unlike massacre games that cause occasional episodes of adrenaline during play and result in a good-natured sociality, the experience in the “persistent worlds” of assaults experienced as such may elicit not only anger or discouragement, but resentment and even hatred. The modalities of violence in these games are therefore both more elaborate, less directly brutal in their staging, and at the same time closer to the reality they feel.
The time spent in the game to build virtual goods that are feared to be lost, the hesitation also to provoke, for the same reasons, the anger and the vengeance of an adversary whose assets one would steal or destroy, arouse in the “Persistent worlds” of regulatory mechanisms in the effective exercise of violence: intimidation, threats, alliances, guild affiliations, negotiations, recourse to third parties. The effective aggression of a player by another player is not the most frequent play situation and, when it occurs, it is conditioned by the necessities of needs and alliances and often obeys codes of honor. or the laws of war, but also to a whole web of diplomatic, strategic, moral, and ideological considerations. Playing involves rules of civility and the deployment of communication and negotiation skills. The prevention and management of violence in the game is therefore in itself forms of learning of sociability   For a more detailed study of specific forms ….
One outstanding question: the derealization of violence
These observations and the studies cited above leave in suspense a question that may not lend itself easily to inquiry-based treatment: that of derealization effects induced by the depiction and staging of violence through synthetic imaging. The problem is not new and has already been studied about the spectacle of violence on television: the daily reception of photos and violent films, relatively identical in their crudity, whether they are programs of information or fiction films, can induce in the viewer a form of feeling of unreality. The spectacle of the death and suffering of others no longer cuts the appetite at mealtime. Similarly, in video games, bursting with mortar or bar with the character of an opponent, which can be indifferently a program managed by the computer or the “avatar” of a real player, generally gives a feeling of undisguised pleasure, whereas on the other hand, the death of his own character is not lived physically as such: we do not really die and we do not even hurt. It is deduced (and it is true) that the destruction of the image of the adversary, even realistically, at the limit of the film reproducing the event, does not mean that the opponent dies “for real”.
In real-life games, group or combat sports, games, even fights, children and teenagers are led to experience in their body limits not to be exceeded. Wounds and bumps punish the error and mark the differentiated relationship to the other. While in online games, the disappearance of the real body (its own body as well as the body of the other) removes a form of tracking. We face the risk mentioned in the introduction: if others can be treated through its “double” infographic as a video game program, is there not a risk of overflow in sanitized practices, abstract, of violence, which can be inflicted without awareness, or rather without identification, of the pain inflicted on the other?
The question is not of the same order as that dealt with by the socio-logical surveys mentioned above. These show that violent video game players do not yield more than others to the temptation of physical violence, between them or in their daily reality. One would even assume that, if they play video games, it is because they prefer to avoid physical violence, or even simply exercise-related fatigue and the risk of injury in physical games. Video games come from this point of view to meet a clientele that is not necessarily sporty, looking for in-room recreation. From this point of view, parents and educators can limit their concerns to problems other than violence, such as the possible lack of physical activity.
But the disturbances induced by the virtual worlds in our apprehension of reality are at least two types (Schmoll, 2001b). When parents and educators stigmatize the risk of specific forms of schizophrenia or solipsism that would provoke too much taste for virtual creatures in video games, they refer to the escape from the real “real”, and to the refuge in synthetic realities, which would result from a tendency to treat simulacra as objects and real beings . But another type of disturbance, the opposite of this one, can also consist of treating reality as having as little consistency as the virtual worlds.. Ph. Quéau (1993) had already pointed out this possibility, which is perhaps even more dangerous, not for young people individually, but for the overall functioning of our societies. Video games appear on the screen in the same way as the military operations on the screen of the command centers of modern armies: for the soldier, the enemy is a “target”, and more and more often, the destruction of the opponent excludes physical contact on the ground and is reduced to the “operator” to experience the disappearance of a flashing dot on its screen.
The media coverage of the Gulf War, presented as a real-time wargame in which death was never directly shown, has become a prime example of how video games can function as a paradigm of modern warfare. . More recently, the electronic hunt conducted by amateur Internet users looking for information on Osama bin Laden and his military-financial network shows that war is becoming an online game. We finally forget that at the end of the connection, people continue to die.